Many enzymes form homooligomers, yet the functional significance of self-association is seldom obvious. Herein, we examine the connection between oligomerization and catalytic function for proline utilization A (PutA) enzymes. PutAs are bifunctional enzymes that catalyze both reactions of proline catabolism. Type A PutAs are the smallest members of the family, possessing a minimal domain architecture consisting of N-terminal proline dehydrogenase and C-terminal l-glutamate-γ-semialdehyde dehydrogenase modules. Type A PutAs form domain-swapped dimers, and in one case (Bradyrhizobium japonicum PutA), two of the dimers assemble into a ring-shaped tetramer. Whereas the dimer has a clear role in substrate channeling, the functional significance of the tetramer is unknown. To address this question, we performed structural studies of four-type A PutAs from two clades of the PutA tree. The crystal structure of Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus PutA covalently inactivated by N-propargylglycine revealed a fold and substrate-channeling tunnel similar to other PutAs. Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and analytical ultracentrifugation indicated that Bdellovibrio PutA is dimeric in solution, in contrast to the prediction from crystal packing of a stable tetrameric assembly. SAXS studies of two other type A PutAs from separate clades also suggested that the dimer predominates in solution. To assess whether the tetramer of B. japonicum PutA is necessary for catalytic function, a hot spot disruption mutant that cleanly produces dimeric protein was generated. The dimeric variant exhibited kinetic parameters similar to the wild-type enzyme. These results implicate the domain‐swapped dimer as the core structural and functional unit of type A PutAs.
Products Used in this Publication